"Viewers passionate about Baseball are going to appreciate all the sport-specific details (although it’s still more about the characters than the sport) while others, like myself, can relish in the series’ silliness and charisma."
There are a few sports that just don’t make any sense to me: Nascar, Football and Baseball. I could also throw in Equestrian Dressage and Curling, but at least their popularity is only highlighted during Olympic games. Baseball in particular always boggled my mind - at least from a spectator point of view. I’d rather watch old people play Bingo than have to suffer through an entire Baseball match. But what if the sport was given a Stephen Chow treatment? What if there were super-moves and hilarious characters involved? Princess Nine makes Baseball the most enjoyable display of athletic prowess imaginable. Instead of old men with beer bellies chewing tobacco and standing around while twitching their faces at each other, we have absurd Anime characters that can throw balls faster than bullets. Princess Nine is unintentionally satirical. It has plenty of laughs that are meant to be there, but because it takes itself so seriously it ends up being exceedingly whimsical. That’s what makes it so great. Viewers passionate about Baseball are going to appreciate all the sport-specific details (although it’s still more about the characters than the sport) while others, like myself, can relish in the series’ silliness and charisma. One thing is for sure; Princess Nine has a lot of heart. Its nostalgic allure is unquestionably delightful and anyone who’s grown up with shows like Captain Tsubasa and Attack No. 1 should give Princess Nine a look…as long as you can stomach the heavy melodrama during later episodes.
"Overcoming diversity and prejudice is the series’ motto, but unfortunately the second half emphasizes romance and unnecessary dramatics too much."
The story revolves around nine girls from Kisaragi School who decide to form a baseball team in order to compete with the boys’ clubs at The National High School Baseball Championship. Ryo Hayakawa, who’s voiced by the talented Miki Nagasawa, is both the team’s ace pitcher and the show’s protagonist. She is the daughter of a former pitching star who was banned from major League Baseball and has inherited her father’s powerful left pitching arm. The most interesting aspect of Princess Nine is the girls’ struggle to overcome a male dominated sport. But unlike the One Outs Anime, the emphasis is on drama over sports and the show’s shoujo roots become immediately apparent. Character conflicts take precedence, but it’s somewhat frustrating when a player’s relationship so heavily impacts their game performance. The creators should have eased up on the shoujo elements in order accentuate the girls’ willingness and strength. But even with the typical soap-opera moments, it’s impossible not to root for the talented underdogs.
Overcoming diversity and prejudice is the series’ motto, but unfortunately the second half emphasizes romance and unnecessary dramatics too much. This essentially brings the pacing to a crawl. While the first half focuses on the team coming together and trying to become recognized as the boys’ equals, the later episodes almost exclusively revolve around stereotypical love affairs. But even with the undesirable shoujo nonsense, Princess Nine is thoroughly engaging. Each of the nine teammates gets plenty of screen time and character development and the actual game matches are incredibly tense.
"Much like the recently reviewed Space Adventure Cobra, Princess Nine is more likely to appeal to collectors than contemporary Anime fans."
The visual and audio qualities of the DVD-Remaster are spectacular. The animation is flawlessly preserved and it’s a delight re-watching a purely traditionally animated show without any digital enhancements. Some of the action sequences are noticeably repetitive, but the overall craftsmanship is undeniably impressive. I particularly enjoyed some of side characters that were stylistically completely different from the protagonists.
Much like the recently reviewed Space Adventure Cobra, Princess Nine is more likely to appeal to collectors than contemporary Anime fans. The melodrama can be a bit too much during the show’s second half, but it’s an enjoyable venture nevertheless. As someone who doesn’t care for sports, much less for Baseball, I’m surprised by how engaging each episode turned out to be. Watching the team overcome all odds is exceptionally satisfying even if the creators lost track of their main message halfway through. Princess Nine may not hit all the right notes, but it still stands as one of the most beloved Anime sports-classics of the nineties.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Review Format: DVD | Running Time: 650 Minutes